SAFE Act passes key committee vote

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The Financial Services Committee approved the bill by a huge majority

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act has jumped a crucial hurdle as it makes its way toward finding federal approval. The Financial Services Committee in the House of Representatives approved the bill yesterday, thanks in part to the testimony of the executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), retired police Major Neill Franklin.

There is still a long way to go before SAFE’s target can be found. The bill hopes to provide access to financial institutions by marijuana companies, and similar attempts have previously been cut off in Congress. However, Franklin testified before the committee last month in a hearing of the committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, giving his support for the measure.

Franklin, who was with the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department for a combined 34 years, stated at the time, “Banking may sound like one of the less exciting topics when talking about marijuana policy, but it is hugely important. Right now, marijuana businesses have to do most of their transactions in cash, making owners and employees vulnerable targets for theft. Passing this bill is the first step toward changing that.”

LEAP supports SAFE because, currently, marijuana businesses are virtually all cash-only enterprises, despite a state’s legal position on cannabis. Federal law prohibiting marijuana limits banking options and Franklin asserts that the current restrictions create an environment that is unsafe and can lead to serious hazardous situations for business owners.

Two GOP leaders had attempted to delay the committee’s vote. The fact that it went forward shows how much support there is for the bill, which was ultimately approved 45-15. It will now go before a full House vote, which has still not been scheduled.